Belgium's CO mitigation potential under improved cropland management

N. Dendoncker, B. Van Wesemael, M.D.A. Rounsevell, C. Roelandt, S. Lettens

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Sequestration of carbon in soils and vegetation can contribute to meeting greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for individual countries under the Kyoto Protocol. In this paper, the carbon mitigation potential of a series of agricultural land-management practices that are relevant to Belgian agriculture is quantified. Reforestation of a part of the total agricultural area is also considered, and the sequestration potential is corrected for practices already in use before the 1990 baseline. Existing and future agro-environmental policies as well as regional policies aimed at reducing environmental side effects of spreading organic amendments were considered when calculating the areas for which sequestration measures could be applied. The results are brought together in a realistic scenario. The mean sequestration potential expressed in Gg C per year for Belgium is as follows: additional bio-energy crops (96.2), spreading farmyard manure formerly applied to grassland on arable land (84.4) woodland regeneration (31.7), adopting no-till farming on suitable soils over a period of 20 years (15.8), the use of cover crops following winter cereals (15.2, adopted over 20 years), improved management of farmed peat soils (13.4) and organic farming (2.2). These figures suggest that, by 2010, Belgium can only expect a reduction in CO emissions ranging from 0.47 to 0.90% of the 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by improving agricultural management. These measures should not however be neglected as they will have other positive effects on soil properties, and they could offer a solution to reduce emissions from the agricultural sector by 4.7-9.0% of the 1990 values.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)101-116
    Number of pages16
    JournalAgriculture, Ecosystems and Environment
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2004


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